KUCHING, Dec 24 — The Sarawak Division of the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) suggested today that the monthly minimum wage in the private sector should be fixed at RM1,500 throughout the country.
Its secretary Andrew Lo said the monthly minimum wage of RM1,200 to be implemented in 57 cities and towns starting from January 1 next year is too low.
“The increase of RM100 in major cities is translated to only an additional 48 sen an hour,” he said, adding that the calculation is based on 26 working days in a month and eight hours’ work a day.
Currently, the monthly minimum wage is RM1,100 a month.
Lo said in Perth, Australia, the minimum wage is A$22 an hour and lunch there costs A$11.
“This means that working half an hour is enough to put food into their mouth while in Malaysia workers have to work two days, with each day for 12 hours, just to buy a proper meal,” he said.
Lo said a higher minimum wage will facilitate part-time employment for students to earn a reasonable income and gain work experience just as in Australia.
“We believe that a higher minimum wage will also facilitate a high-income high-productivity workforce, but employers will have to invest in innovation and smarter human resources management and manpower planning instead of forever relying on low-skilled foreign workers.
“It will increase their competitiveness in a global economy,” he said.
Three days ago, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan said he wanted the government to review the latest minimum wage hike.
He had claimed the increase would benefit foreign workers more than Malaysians and could trigger other problems.
He also questioned the rationale behind increasing wages if domestic workers do not benefit from it.
The Human Resources Ministry announced on December 18 that the monthly minimum wage for the private sector would be raised to RM1,200 in 57 cities and towns in the peninsula and in Borneo Malaysia from January 1, 2020.